Is It Possible There Is Nothing Nice to Say?

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Lauren Tamaki

Donald Trump is a hated figure — more hated than any political figure in America. In Washington you can just assume that any random person you talk with agrees with you about that. The only comparable person in American politics is Richard Nixon, who my mother told me was despicable when I was about 6, long before Watergate — and she was right!

But if you and everyone you know passionately believe one thing while half the country believes the opposite, it may be time for a reality test. That is the purpose of this feature: not to persuade people that President Trump is any kind of good guy, but to ask whether it’s possible that he has done or said anything good during his campaign and the first months of his presidency.

This newspaper and other mainstream media outlets have cut Mr. Trump no slack. The Times editorial page urged the deputy attorney general, a career government lawyer, to “save your honor”: call for a special prosecutor to investigate the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russia and cash in a lifetime of probity chips if necessary to do it.

Let’s have a special prosecutor by all means. But is it true that Mr. Trump has no redeeming qualities (except that he evidently loves his family — and even that has gotten him into justifiable trouble)? Can it be that he lacks the moral character to hold a job once held by Nixon and the wisdom to hold a job once held by George W. Bush?

Maybe so. It does seem unlikely. Good journalism doesn’t require perfect balance. In fact, perfect balance may be a distortion of reality. But journalism gains credibility when it gives all sides their due. So to make sure we do Mr. Trump no injustice, we asked readers to weigh in. (You still can, at somethingnice@nytimes.com.) So far, the results have been copious but unencouraging. Many people do seem to think that our…

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